It should go without saying that residents in Puerto Rico should be treated fairly and not be discriminated against. Whether it be because they are Americans, they are Puerto Ricans or because they live on this awesome island called Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. As an American in Puerto Rico I have experienced discrimination within Puerto Rico and as a Puerto Rico resident, I have experienced discrimination from American companies that treat residences of Puerto Rico differently simply because we live in Puerto Rico.
I am going to give a few examples of my personal experiences of discrimination while living in Puerto Rico. Before I start, I think it is important to let all of you know how much I love it here and how much I love my friends and neighbors. Pride of heritage is one of the admirable qualities of all the Puerto Ricans I know and since I didn’t grow up with that nationalistic enthusiasm, I want to make sure I don’t offend any of mí gente in PR.
Americans Discriminated Against in Puerto Rico
Much like the places I have lived in the United States, generalizing an entire population of an area just doesn’t work when trying to map out prejudice and discrimination. For example, when I lived in North Carolina, most of the people I met greeted me with open arms, but there were some that were so prejudiced against Yankee’s (I’m from New Jersey) that they would ignore my very existence in a room. These people were the minority and despite their ill behavior towards me, I absolutely loved Wilmington, North Carolina and consider it one of the safest most amazing places I have ever lived.
Well, the same type of discrimination goes on here in Puerto Rico. There is a minority of people on the island that just don’t care for the Americans that have made the island their home. I do my best to ignore these people and give them the space their vibe, or sometimes their voice, is asking for.
More common than the low percentage of Puerto Ricans that don’t want Americans on their island, are Puerto Rican’s that see all American’s as independently wealthy adults or trust fund kids. These are the types of people that steal and overcharge Americans. The thieves will break into rental cars, houses, hotel rooms and steal things from tourists. The overchargers are businesses and services that offer “Gringo Pricing” versus what they charge the locals. I have had encounters with both types of people, but experience Gringo Pricing regularly to this day.
I usually get Gringo pricing when working on the house. Prices change when I call for material costs versus one of my fluent Puerto Rican friends. I regularly ask my neighbors to call when getting estimates and supplies costs on construction supplies, manual labor estimates and backhoe, digger and power equipment rentals. I’m lucky to have such awesome neighbors and Sydney is lucky to have 3 abuelas that live right up the driveway.
Puerto Rican Discriminated Against By American Companies
By far, the most aggravating discrimination that everyone in Puerto Rico deals with on a regular basis regardless of their birth right to the island is shipping of goods when shopping online. Many retailers try to charge international rates or refuse to ship because they don’t want to deal with customs. Ignorance leads this parade of retailers because shipping to Puerto Rico can be done via ‘ground shipping’ with both USPS & FedEx and the United States Post Office offers PO Boxes and the same shipping rates as shipping from California to New York. That’s right, same price, no customs and no special rates needed yet many retailers discriminate against Puerto Rico and refuse to ship here. Up until recently, the biggest offenders in my book were Amazon and Apple. Both of these companies have overturned their no shipping or overpriced shipping options to Puerto Rico. Apple did it on their own, but it took a lawsuit to start offering reasonable shipping rates again.
In 2010, the Government of Puerto Rico started DACO which is a Anti-Discrimination Commercial Office to fight consumer complaints and descrimination against Puerto Rico. Amongst the 250 companies in the states that DACO has contacted in regards to either offering reasonable shipping rates or some type of shipping was Amazon. From what I read in in this article, DACO actually took Amazon to court and one getting Amazon to offer Prime Shipping services as well as reasonably priced per order shipping prices to the consumers of Puerto Rico!
We need equal rights for consumers in Puerto Rico!
The reason I even decided to write this post was because a friend of mine told me she just saved $100 when booking a flight on United Airlines for putting a U.S. billing address instead of her Puerto Rico billing address. I sent her the link to file a complaint with DACO about being discriminated against. Have you had any experiences like this? I’d love to hear your take on all this stuff.